Justice Served 25 Years After the Murder of Lena Bruce: Today, December 11, 2017, a Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted the man guilty of murdering 21-year-old Lena Bruce in her South End apartment back in July of 1992. Boston Police Detectives used DNA evidence, recovered at the original crime scene, to track down the man responsible for the murder. After today’s guilty finding, James Witkowski is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars. In July of 1992, Witkowski broke into Bruce’s apartment, sexually assaulted her and strangled her to death. Unbeknownst to Witkowski, he would leave behind two key pieces of evidence that would ultimately lead to justice being done. DNA evidence, including sperm and skin cells found beneath Bruce’s fingernails, collected by detectives at the scene would be entered into and stored in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, a database of DNA profiles from unsolved crimes and known offenders. At the time the evidence was entered into the system, there was no match to be made because Witkowski’s DNA had never been entered into the system.
Thankfully, the break in the case came in 2014 when Witkowski was charged with a crime in Brockton. When his DNA was entered into the system, a match was made and the person responsible for the death of Lena Bruce found.
Said Commissioner William Evans, “This is a day of mixed emotions for the men and women of the Boston Police Department. Clearly, my detectives are happy and pleased that justice has been done and the individual responsible for the death of Lena Bruce is behind bars and expected to stay there for the rest of his life. But this is also a sad day, too. I have a daughter. A lot of the detectives assigned to our Homicide Unit have daughters. So, as you can well imagine, this case hits close to home for a lot of us. Because, at 21-years of age, we all know Lena Bruce deserved better. She had just graduated from a great school, Tufts University, and had her whole life to live and look forward to. Sadly, we all know she never got that chance. And, while there’s nothing we can do or say to bring her back or lessen the pain felt by for those who knew and loved Lena, we humbly hope today’s conviction brings with it a small amount of comfort and closure to her family and friends.”